Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Smiles with my Tomato Basil Soup

A medium level chain restaurant I used to avoid at all costs has made some menu changes that now bring me in fairly regularly. They are actually offering plates with meat and vegetables people might really want to eat. And they have expanded their soups to four. Yeah, the obligatory cheese broccoli and baked potato, but also French onion and tomato basil, served with a variety of salads and thick half sandwiches. I also like this place because the wait staff is excellent. With two universities in the immediate area, diners almost anywhere around here are pleased to have a plethora of bright,coordinated young people who are determined to get the best tip out of their customers by providing excellent service.

But the young woman waiting on me last week was a cut above.Yes, she topped up my glass every time before it was half empty. She didn't annoy, but she stopped by to check on things. She was cordial, punctilious, efficient. She was more. She came across as a real person dealing with another real person. She had a warmth in her interactions. She SAW me.

When I was taking my change for the bill at the end, I stopped her as she was about to zip off again and thanked her for adding a measure of enjoyment to my meal, because she did. I told her she moved so fast, I bet few people got a chance to tell her that very often.

"Oh," she said, "last week it happened two times. It turned out one of the people at one of my tables is a manager at Macy's. She said if I wanted a job any time to come see her. Then I was trying to handle the situation at a table where the diners had complaints about the food. Another ccustomer at a nearby table stopped me, and told me I had excellent people skills and if I wantted a job to come see her, and SHE was a manager, too!" And she beamed.

Well, I don't know if either of those jobs would pay any more than what she gets waitressing, but it's a kind of security knowing other jobs are out there. And it is good to know people still appreciate good service and say "thank you." (I know you and I are polite and genteel, but what about all those OTHERS?)

And for the most part, I do run into pleasant, polite people. Men and even young women hold the door for me. When I'm trying to break into rush hour traffic, sooner or later someone is going to pause and let me in. And I try to pass these courtesies on. I strongly support Random Acts Of Kindness and I need to be on the lookout. I've got at least two to pass on.

But back to the waitress. Excellence shows, I think, whatever we may be doing. Some of our young people still adhere to the adage of taking pride in their work and doing it well. In fact, I suspect --a great many?--most?--do good work. They just have no longterm loyalty to the firm. Which is only reasonable.

I wish that young woman much success. All I know is, her smiling service added a lot to my tomato basil soup and spinach salad with grilled shrimp.

No comments: